03/07/2024 09:56 AM
Opinions on topical issues from thought leaders, columnists and editors.
By :
Usha Devi Rajaratnam

Following the release of SPM results, students are faced with the critical decision of determining their next academic or professional step. This juncture requires thoughtful consideration of whether one is prepared for tertiary education, technical and vocational training, or a pathway toward professional qualifications. The transition to tertiary education encompasses diverse pathways. It is not necessary to decide on your undergraduate studies immediately after SPM. Identifying an appropriate post-SPM trajectory is pivotal in shaping future educational pursuits.

Traditionally, ‘A’ levels and Australian matriculation programmes have been favoured alternatives to the STPM or local government university matriculation studies. Recently, however, there has been a discernible trend towards Foundation or Diploma studies as prerequisites for undergraduate degrees. The advantages of Foundation or Diploma programmes are manifold, offering flexibility and aligning with individual inclinations. For students who are undecided about their preferences, a general Foundation or Diploma programme provides a comprehensive overview of various subjects, facilitating a broad understanding of potential undergraduate studies. Alternatively, a discipline-specific Foundation or Diploma programme can provide a strategic advantage by laying a solid groundwork for future specialised undergraduate programmes.

Evaluation of options

Making a well-informed decision necessitates an exhaustive evaluation of the available options. Several critical factors must be considered, including institutional ranking, reputation, location, accessibility and financial implications. When contemplating tertiary education, students must decide whether to attend a Malaysian university, either government or private, a foreign branch campus or to pursue studies abroad. The cost of university education is a significant factor, and it is important to explore scholarships and bursaries to mitigate financial pressures. Additionally, the nature of the desired qualification must be carefully examined. In an era of globalisation and borderless education opportunities, ensuring that qualifications meet the standards set by the Malaysian Qualifications Agency is essential for those intending to seek employment in Malaysia.

The transition from the school system to pre-university or undergraduate studies introduces a distinct set of challenges. Adjusting to this new academic environment is critical for ensuring a comprehensive learning experience. It is imperative to move beyond rote learning and embrace the methodologies of higher education, which include critical analysis, research skills, and independent learning. Students must take ownership of their educational objectives and adapt to varied assessment methods, encompassing both formative and summative evaluations. While flexibility in an open learning environment is crucial, maintaining effective time management skills and setting clearly defined goals are essential.

Advantages of interaction

Participation in college activities can enhance leadership and teamwork abilities, and interacting with international students offers valuable insights into diverse cultural learning styles. Although the transition may be challenging, the resolve to overcome these hurdles is necessary for advancing in one’s educational journey. Staying motivated and building a supportive network are vital for ensuring a smooth transition.

With the advent of globalisation, advancements in educational technologies and an increased emphasis on interdisciplinary learning, students have unprecedented opportunities to excel. As post-SPM students navigate their academic pathways, they can anticipate a supportive and enriching environment that fosters personal growth and academic excellence, thereby establishing a robust foundation for their future endeavours. Consequently, the future for SPM graduates is replete with diverse opportunities, and the advancements in educational pathways position students for academic success and promising career prospects.


Usha Devi Rajaratnam is a Principal Lecturer at the School of Diploma and Professional Studies at Taylor’s College, Malaysia. She is passionate about women's empowerment, political communication and race relations.

(The views expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not reflect the official policy or position of BERNAMA)